Chester entered Friday night’s matchup against the Carolina Pride with the opportunity to start the season 5-1 for the first time since 2009.
The outcome was virtually never in doubt, as the Cyclones started strong and scored on all but one possession, taking home a 65-6 victory.
“We’re headed in the right direction,” said Chester coach Victor Floyd.
Floyd’s unit turned in a nearly flawless effort in its last outing before Region 4-3A play begins next week. The Cyclones were charged with a few key penalties, but overcame those setbacks to take down their visiting North Carolina foes.
A second-quarter Carolina Pride drive found the visitors inside the Chester 10, threatening to cut the Cyclone lead to 14-7. A run to the right side by the Pride (2-4) was quickly swarmed by the Cyclone defense, resulting in a 6-yard loss and fumble. Chester took over possession at its own 12-yard line. Williams hit John Erby on a 42-yard strike, then marched 46 yards to the house on the next play, giving Chester a 21-0 lead.
The ensuing drive by the Pride also resulted in another strike by the Cyclones. The Pride were forced to punt after three plays, but that punt traveled just one yard. Chester quickly cashed in. Williams converted a fourth-and-one run around right end, but the play was called back due to a hold. This changed the fourth-and-one to fourth-and-10, but that mattered little to Williams. The Appalachian State commit found a streaking Quay Hardin for a 35-yard score, giving the Cyclones a 27-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Williams completed 8-of-11 passes for 200 yards and carried nine times for nearly 100 yards. The senior star also had a 78-yard punt return touchdown called back due to a penalty, and had a 36-yard return that set up another Chester score.
Sophomore running back Pha’Leak Brown found the end zone twice on the ground on his only two carries. One of those scores was a twisting, turning 50-yard jaunt in which he broke free of the Pride defense and pulled away toward the end zone.
“We’re blessed that we have three running backs that are pretty talented. We have to play everybody on defense. Pha’Leak hasn’t gotten as many touches, because we’re asking him to do so much at free safety,” said Floyd. “He was able to get more touches tonight, and I was happy to see that.”
Fellow Cyclone runner Jalyn Reid also found the end zone twice.
“It’s a new season now; 5-1 means nothing starting Monday morning – probably Sunday afternoon, honestly,” said Floyd. “We just have to get ready to play the new season. We’re going to enter season two (Region 4-3A play) next week, and everybody’s slate is clean. It doesn’t matter what you did, and that’s how we have to look at it. We have to get ready to roll.”
Chester hosts Indian Land to kick off Region 4-3A play next Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Chester 65, Carolina Pride 6
C – Pha’Leak Brown 35 run (conversion failed) 10:14
C – Malik Williams 4 run (Williams pass to Quay Hardin) 7:52
C – Williams 46 run (Erby kick) 10:23
C – Williams 35 pass to Quay Hardin (kick failed) 6:56
C – Williams 22 run (kick failed) 1:39
C – Erby 37 field goal :00
C – Jalyn Reid 1 run (Erby kick) 6:28
C – Reid 12 run (kick failed) 2:29
C – Ira Grant 15 interception return (Reid run) 10:22
CP – Garrett Ward 7 run (kick failed) 7:15
C – Brown 50 run (Williams run) 3:30